I’m having a major girl crush moment over here today you guys! When Nicole Salceda (the mastermind behind @eyeforpretty) reached out to give her support of our launch and chat about collaborating on a feature, I did a happy dance like no other. She is way out of our league I thought, no? Well, that’s the amazing thing about this little community that we’ve built so far—big or small, fresh or seasoned, lifestyle creatives of the most beautiful variety are coming together to join in this space and celebrate one another. It’s beautiful and it’s exactly what I hoped for HAVEN when it was just a tiny spark of an idea in my head. So, thank you to Nicole, and Lindsey, and Tory, and Anastasia, and Jacquelyn, and SO many more creatives, and most gratefully all of you who show up on the daily to root us on and be inspired.
Now, back to our Haven Maven of the week! Nicole Salceda of Eye for Pretty is opening up the doors to her gorgeous Bay Area home, captured by Amy Bartlam, and it is all things light-filled, long-live-white and Cali coastal. Read: perfect in every way. She’s also diving into her design process, typical daily routine, how she grew her Instagram community and so much more.
What did you do before becoming an interior designer and how did Eye for Pretty come to life?
I was an elementary school teacher for many years before I transitioned into interior design. For as long as I can remember, I’d always been decorating and designing. I was torn for a long time trying to juggle my teaching career and starting a new business. It took a few years to gain the confidence to make the jump and get over my fear of failing. One client turned into two and very quickly I was busier than I could have ever imagined. I feel so fortunate to have had not one, but two careers that I’ve loved equally.
How would you describe your design style?
My design style is hard to nail down because it’s constantly evolving but I like to think of it as California Casual. Fresh and bright spaces with clean lines and soft textures. It’s not stuffy or overdone. I like to leave room to breathe and not overcrowd a space. It’s pretty but in a realistic way that can be maintained even with kids.
In a nutshell, what does your design process look like? What’s your favorite part of it all?
Before we onboard a client, we take some initial information to see if they are going to be a good fit. Not everyone is going to be a match and that’s ok. Once we’ve established our relationship, I like to meet and hear about what their dream space looks like. I like to gather all their Pinterest and Houzz images, talk about what they like and what they don’t like and come up with a design plan that feels unique and special to them. I also like to stretch them a bit. Bring them ideas they hadn’t thought of instead of sticking to what’s familiar.
Next, it’s time for me to work on space plans, design boards and picking picking finishes. I feel my value is in helping clients make decisions that they will hopefully love for a long time. I like to give them a few options but stay pretty firm on my selections. Once everything is selected, I tell them there is going to be a waiting period. Sometimes it’s longer than you think but it’s all a process and I try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to the timeline. The best part of all is when everything is in and you’re ready to install. To see a project, that started out as an idea in your head come to life, is truly magical. I love seeing my clients reactions when they walk in and realize it’s theirs. Pure joy!
What is a typical day in the life of Nicole Salceda?
I usually wake up between 5:45 and 6am to get in some work before the crazy morning rush starts. Once I get my kids off to school I try to go to the gym for an hour then head to my morning meetings with clients, contractors and my assistant. I grab a quick lunch and usually head out sourcing and shopping for an hour or two. I might check in on a project, engage on Instagram or head home to catch up on emails/office work before I pick my kids up at 3pm. When they get home, it’s usually after school activities, homework and dinner. We put them to bed around 8:30pm and it’s back on the computer working until about 10pm.
You have such an engaged and supportive Instagram community. What are your best tips for growing a social media presence?
Instagram has truly been instrumental in growing my brand and business. A few years ago, I took a course by my friend Melissa over at @shopcompliment on how to grow your Instagram following in 21 days. In those twenty one days, I grew my following by a couple thousand and learned so many tips on what people were looking for in a post. I highly recommend it! With her guidance, I’m proud to say all of my followers are organic and have never been bought. These days, it’s much harder with the algorithm to grow quickly but I do believe consistency and being authentic are key. I rarely post about things that aren’t design related and stay in my lane. I try to engage and write people back as much as I can because it’s all about connection. When someone comments and you’ve taken the time to answer them back, it’s satisfying. I know when Studio McGee writes me back I’m like yessss! It feels good and I think that is what we all crave being on Instagram.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
Having just completed a major remodel on our own home, I was thrilled to see it being spread all over the internet. I had the fabulous Amy Bartlam shoot it and was amazed how she captured the overall feeling of being in it. Honestly nothing makes me more proud than walking into my own front door every day.
You can only live in one room of your house for an entire year. Which room would you choose and why?
The kitchen of course because I like to eat! When designing the kitchen, I paid special attention to the flow of the space because I knew it’s where we would be spending most of our time. When family and friends come over, we all gather around the island. The natural light in there is unrivaled and it brings us so much happiness just being in it.
What is your number one tip for crafting a beautiful home?
Don’t rush it. Anything good in life takes time and your home is no exception. Buy a few key pieces and then wait for a time you can invest in more. In the meantime, don’t bring in stuff “just because” to fill the space.
If you could go to lunch with ANY kick ass boss lady, who would it be?
Ooooh this is hard because there are so many kick ass boss ladies I love in the industry. Lori Paranjape @mrsparanjape has been kind enough to mentor me and has really talked me off of some ledges. I know if I need something, she is there to bounce ideas off of. I’d also love to take her to lunch because she’s hilarious AF and one of my favorite things to do is laugh. There are so many amazing and kind ladies in the industry. Lindsey Brooke Design is another one that has always gone above and beyond to help. Community over competition is what it’s all about.
If you had to use only ONE paint color throughout a home, what hue would it be?
White! Still not over it. Nope. Even when my kids run their dirty hands all over my walls.
Instagram account(s) you’re currently crushing on:
Again so hard but newer ones to me I’ve been loving…@lifestyledco ,@vintagerugshop and @designshopinteriors. Of course there’s the OG’s too… @studiomcgee, @chrislovesjulia and @amberinteriors
Current favorite book and/or podcast:
The Life Coach School with Brooke Castillo
3 favorite home decor shops:
McGee & Co., Serena & Lily, Hudson Grace SF
Favorite beats usually playing while you design:
It’s either country or 90’s rap. There’s no in between lol!